Free COVID tests from the government have started arriving in the mail for some.
And while metrics continue to improve across Illinois, deaths attributed to the virus continued to rise toward record highs.
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
'Stealth Omicron': What is It, Where Has it Been Detected and Should You Be Worried?
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A version of the omicron variant dubbed "stealth omicron" is being monitored by scientists and health experts around the world as it has been detected in more than 40 countries, but what is it and what does it mean for the pandemic?
This version of the coronavirus, which scientists call BA.2, is widely considered stealthier than the original version of omicron because particular genetic traits make it somewhat harder to detect. Some scientists worry it could also be more contagious.
But they say there’s a lot they still don’t know about it, including whether it evades vaccines better or causes more severe disease.
Chicago's top doctor said the city is "keeping an eye on" the omicron subtype.
"There's nothing that we've seen at this point that is raising a high level of concern but please rest assured we're watching it and we'll let you know if there's anything to be interested or concerned about," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday.
COVID by the Numbers: Cases, Hospitalizations Drop in Illinois, but Deaths Continue to Rise
The state of Illinois continued to see slow improvement in several key COVID metrics on Tuesday, but deaths related to the virus continued to rise toward record highs, as 121 fatalities were reported in the last 24 hours.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state is now averaging 132 COVID-related deaths per day over the last week. That number is the highest that Illinois has seen since Dec. 2020, with the record average topping out at 155 fatalities per day, according to officials.
Read more here.
Free COVID Tests From the Government Now Being Mailed. Here's How to Get Yours
One week after the government launched its new website for Americans to get free COVID tests sent to their homes, some who placed early orders have reported deliveries are being made.
Some on social media reported receiving their tests in the mail already by Tuesday while others received emailed delivery updates saying their orders were expected to arrive later this week.
Free N95 Masks Now Available at Some Illinois Stores and More Are Coming
Some Illinois stores and pharmacies have already started distributing free N95 masks from the government to area residents.
Meijer began handing out free N95 masks to shoppers Monday, becoming one of the first major retail chains to do so as part of a Biden administration initiative.
Meijer isn't the only Midwest chain to have started giving out masks.
Des-Moines based Hy-Vee, which operates more than a dozen stores in Illinois, said the majority of its locations in the state have received shipments of N95 masks and started distribution.
Read more here.
Illinois Announces COVID-19 Sick Leave for Vaccinated School Employees
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday a statewide initiative to provide paid administrative leave for school employees who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a news release, Pritzker explained he negotiated with the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers to keep students and teachers in the classroom safely without penalizing vaccinated employees who take sick time.
Read more here.
KN95, N95 and More: A Look at the Different Masks and What You Should Know About Each
KN95s, N95s, cloth, surgical and more - there are a lot of options when it comes to wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
With pharmacies across the country preparing to distribute free N95 masks as part of a new government effort, what should you know about the different kinds of masks and how to properly use them?
Is Sneezing a Symptom of COVID? How to Tell the Difference Between the Virus, Allergies and Flu
Is sneezing a symptom of COVID-19?
Allergy-sufferers have been asking whether their recent symptoms are caused by the chilly environment, a cold, the flu or the coronavirus.
Experts say the only real way to know the answer is to test, but until then, health officials say to treat any possible symptoms assuming they are related to COVID.
Read more here.